India's plague 'will soon be over'

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(First Edition)

New Delhi - Hundreds of people were discharged from Indian hospitals yesterday after testing negative for the plague, and only 50 fresh cases were reported, indicating that the disease was abating. 'The outbreak is on the decline and will be over soon,' the Health Secretary, M S Dayal, said. 'There is absolutely nothing to fear now.'

Mr Dayal said that with the 50 fresh cases of the disease diagnosed yesterday, a total of 284 confirmed cases of pneumonic or bubonic plague had been reported in India, far fewer than initially feared. Post mortem examinations had also disclosed that two deaths in the western city of Surat, where the plague outbreak was first identified two weeks ago, had been caused by plague, taking the number of deaths nationwide to 53. Mr Dayal, India's top health official, predicted the outbreak would be completely under control before the Hindu festival of Dussehra, which begins on 14 October.